Is God Petty?

Is it wrong for God to expect us to worship Him? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I found myself in a discussion about the question of how can people be happy in Heaven knowing that they have loved ones in Hell. As the discussion went on, I focused on one point which got us to a different area. I pointed out that if Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true and there is an answer to the question. If not, then it’s just trivia. I could even be willing to say “I don’t know” but it would be foolish to say “I’m abandoning Christianity because while I’m convinced Jesus rose from the dead, I don’t have an answer on this question.”

Instead, we wound up discussing if God is petty or not. After all, God expects us to love Him and worship Him. Wouldn’t a loving God just give everyone a break? Life has enough suffering as it is. Isn’t it petty to have the whole turn or burn mindset?

Keep in mind, my view of Heaven and Hell is quite different. Still, it is a question we all have to deal with. Even those who profess conditional immortality would have to answer how it is they can be happy if they know they have loved ones who they will never ever see again.

Yet now, I want to focus on the whole charge of God being petty, because it is something we come up against. On the surface, it does look that way. God wants us to worship and adore Him. If we don’t, we are cast aside from Him. Loved ones are separated in that sense. How does this make sense?

Part of our problem is we have a view of God where we just make God a big person. He is just like us, except He has the omni-attributes. If you’re going to study this, you need to realize that God is very different. Whatever the view of God is we have in our mind, it’s in some way inadequate.

Second, we need to ask people where they are getting their theology from. If you make claims about God, how do you know this? If you think God is fair and loving and things of that sort, how is this known? Any claim about knowledge of God needs to be backed. If one wants to turn the question to me, it’s my position that if Jesus rose from the dead, He’s someone worth listening to and I do believe the Gospels are reliable.

So let’s look at the question. For one thing, at the start, Christians were always exclusive. This was even the case when they gained nothing from it. They were on the outs with the Roman Empire and with the Jewish people as well because they said Jesus was the true Lord of the universe.

We often think love cannot be exclusive. This is false. Not only is love exclusive, it has to be exclusive. If you love anything, you will exclude that which is contrary to it. This is one reason I don’t like “hate” being described always as a negative. Hate is not always bad. There are plenty of things we ought to hate. We ought to hate the great evils that we see in the world.

When it comes to the question of God, there are benefits for loving God. There is nothing wrong with this. If a man and a woman love each other, then in a marriage bond, there are benefits they share that others don’t have. There is nothing mercenary about that.

Likewise, if you do not have that commitment, then you do not get the privileges of the commitment. Other people, including other men, can love my wife in some sense, but they are not to love her in the exclusive sense that I do and only I get the benefits of that kind of love. If they had made a covenant instead, they would be having those privileges instead of me.

There are also costs in the case of God. If one rejects the revelation of Jesus knowingly, then one is in essence not only saying Jesus is a liar, but saying that God has not revealed Himself in Jesus. That’s a big claim and one had better be right on. On the other hand, if someone like myself is wrong, then I am guilty of the worst kind of blasphemy against God. I have to be willing to accept that.

If one does not accept God’s way, then one is going their own way. It is a rejection of God. If they don’t want to be with God, then God will honor their request. He will not force Himself on them.

Many of us also assume that we are innocent. It’s not that way at all. No one of us lives a perfect life. We all know that. We all know ways we can do better. God could have just been just and said none of us will be with Him for eternity. He did not.

We also have to ask that if God is going to be loving and forgive all, then what about evil here? Will there never be justice? Do those who lived their lives consistently going against God get all the benefits of those who did the exact opposite?

Once again, all of this depends on if Jesus rose from the dead. If He didn’t, then we could be discussing trivia. We might just have to see if another religion is true or if God revealed Himself some other way or just hope for the best. It is a tough situation then.

But if Jesus did rise from the dead, then we do indeed have great hope. We are forgiven and we will be in the presence of God. Not only that, all the suffering we undergo will be redeemed one day. God does not waste our sufferings in this life. Death itself will be overcome.

That is good news.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/14/2018: Hugh And Kathy Ross

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Marriage can be hard enough as it is sometimes. Just take a man and a woman and put them together and inevitably, some sparks will fly. Some will spark fires of passion, but some will spark fires of anger. Every relationship has difficulties, but some relationships could be more interesting than others.

Last week, one of the topics we covered was a marriage where both of the people involved have Aspergers, namely my wife and I. This week, we are going to cover a marriage where one person has it and the other doesn’t. To do this, we are bringing back one of our favorite guests and his wife.

My guest is the president of his own ministry. He is a highly successful astronomer who works on the intersection between Christianity and science. One of the great aids to what he is doing today is his wife who has never been on the show before but this time is joining us. He is Dr. Hugh Ross and his wife Kathy is joining us.

So who are they?

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.  

Working alongside Hugh is his wife, Kathy. She holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Southern California, worked in communications there, and later taught at Pasadena City College. In addition to editing Hugh’s books, Kathy serves as a vice president at RTB, overseeing multiple ministry departments.

What’s it like for a neurotypical person being married on the spectrum? Are there trials and challenges that neurotypical marriages do not have? How do couples work to overcome these challenges if they do exist?

How did the marriage even come about? Did Kathy and Hugh know about Hugh’s diagnosis before they got married? If not, what did it mean for them when the diagnosis came about? Do they view the condition as a good thing for Hugh or a bad thing?

The Rosses also have kids. Was that an issue? Were there concerns about the functionality of the children if they were born on the spectrum? How does parenting work on the spectrum? Does Dr. Ross have any advantages in the area or does he have any particular disadvantages?

Dr. Ross has often been one of my favorite guests to have on due to also being on the spectrum and someone I get along with very well. I’m thrilled to have him come on and talk about marriage, which is also one of my favorite topics, and to have him come on with his wife Kathy to discuss this important topic and give insights that could help other marriages that are mixed in this sense. I hope you’ll be watching for this episode and please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: In Search Of Ancient Roots

What do I think of Kenneth Stewart’s book published by IVP Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Historically, many times different denominations have not gotten along. Today, there is much more communication and with the internet here, many people are coming across other belief systems they would have no access to before. Many an orthodox Protestant can be wondering about their belief system. Where did it come from?

Stewart’s book is written to help those searching Protestants. While not for any one particular denomination, he does work to show that many of the beliefs and such that we have today go back to our ancestors. Not only that, there was great theological development even on core doctrines. One quick example is the Trinity. It’s not that Jesus rose from the dead and immediately the apostles got together and wrote the Nicene Creed. The outworking of that event took at least three centuries to get to Nicea and today we can look back and see the development of the doctrine.

One great theme of this book is that the Fathers matter. I remember asking someone well over a decade ago in talking about apologetics if they could name an early church father. The only name that came to mind was John Wesley. That’s why we have to do a better job educating. So many people know so little about these great people that many times gave their lives for the Christian faith. We not only don’t know our doctrines, but we don’t know the history behind those doctrines.

Stewart definitely wants us to return to the Fathers. He tells us that early Protestants were known for doing this. Today we think of other traditions scouring the Fathers, but he says in the past the Protestants were the ones doing this the most. There’s no reason Protestants today can’t be doing in-depth research on the Fathers.

He also speaks about examples of debates that we have today. The two he chooses are the frequency of the Lord’s Supper and if we should participate in infant baptism. Both of these chapters bring up points that will be of interest to anyone in these debates.

There’s also a chapter on the history of Newman with the look at the claim that to study church history is to cease to be Protestant. Stewart contends that there are two different Newmans. One is the one presented in many popular writings. The other is one the Catholic Church itself was unsure about.

Towards the end, he starts looking at the harder issues. Many of these chapters I thought would actually work better at the beginning of the book. These include the claim that the Roman Church does have the highest authority due to the seat of Peter being occupied. Stewart argues that the data for this is not as strong as would be like and the claim is not helped by the fact that many times there were rival popes and each pope was busy excommunicating the other.

There’s also a chapter on the history of justification by faith. I find the fact that so many have written on this to show that the early Fathers taught this as fascinating, but there was one blind spot here. I did not see any quotations from the Fathers. I would have liked to have seen some of those at least. One could not get an encyclopedic look of course, but something would be nice.

Finally, it ends with why people abandon Protestantism and go the other way. Again, the message is that we need to really study our history and our doctrine. We have had a sort of anti-intellectualism come over the church and too many have the idea that everything just fell down from heaven and the history is irrelevant. We need to know not only where we are and where we are going, but how we got here.

Those interested in church history will benefit from reading this. It would be good for those on all sides of any such debate. I hope we can return to some serious look at our history. In an age of greater skepticism, we need it more and more not just because of the constant changing of churches, but because of outside attacks on all churches.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What’s Essential With Doubt

Are we really doubting something that’s worthwhile? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I got a call from someone who was doubting. I asked them the nature of their doubts and got told it was about Noah’s Ark, Moses, and the resurrection. This person is a Christian, but is greatly troubled by their doubts. My first point to make to this person was what issues really mattered.

Could it be hypothetically that Noah’s Ark never happened in any way and yet Jesus rose from the dead? Could it be that Moses never existed in and yet Jesus rose from the dead? Both of these were a yes. Now what if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Then we are in serious trouble.

There is a mistake many of us get into where we think we have to answer everything. We don’t. We can’t. It is always easier to raise up a question than it is to give an answer. It doesn’t matter who is asking the question. In any debate, it’s easier to be on the attack. To be on the attack, all you have to do is raise up a doubt. To defend, you have to do the work.

Let’s suppose a Christian wants to argue against an atheist so he presents what he thinks is a problem with evolution wanting to that route. In all honesty, it could be the atheist doesn’t have an answer at that point. Maybe he’s not a specialist in the science of evolution. It could be the Christian has a valid point. Maybe. Maybe not. Further study will answer that. Either way, the Christian will likely have the much easier time.

On the other hand, the atheist can all things being equal just raise up something that he doesn’t like in the Bible. Perhaps the Christian has an answer. Perhaps not. Further study again will answer that. Anyone who just gets in a dialogue and has no answer and immediately recants their faith is someone who didn’t take it seriously to begin with. These are issues that take a long time to work out. A Christian should not take abandoning Christianity lightly. An atheist should not take accepting Christianity lightly.

Yet this is the problem of our modern age. In too many debates on the internet, it is assumed that if you defend a position, you must be able to answer every single question against that position. No one can do that. When it comes to questions about science, for instance, I am more than happy to refer people to others. As someone who helps other ministries out with questions also, I will gladly say when a question is outside of my area of study and refer it to someone better equipped.

One of the big problems many doubters have is thinking that they have to know it all. This is an unreasonable expectation to have in any field. Let’s consider the sciences. These are divided into many different sciences and those sciences are divided into other sciences and on and on. The same with philosophy. In Biblical studies, someone could spend their lives studying just the Gospel of John for instance.

So what do you do? Focus on what is most essential first. For a Christian, it’s the resurrection of Jesus. Does this mean Noah’s Ark is an unimportant question? No. Does this mean the question of Moses is unimportant? No. It means that you don’t put all your eggs in baskets that don’t require them. All-or-nothing thinking is very common with doubters.

This is not to say all doubt is irrational. It’s not. Sometimes we should have legitimate doubt, but it does mean we need to say if we’re okay with being unable to answer everything. One way you can see what kind of doubt you have is if you are given a good factual answer and then you say, “Yeah, but what if?” What ifs are killers with doubt. A what if can be raised with anything and one has to ask if it’s a real legitimate one or just a sort of grasping at straws because of the dread fear one could be wrong about something.

Of course, one should be studying all that they can. This is why I also recommend reading both sides of the issue and having serious interaction with them. As for emotions, they don’t always have to be addressed. I compare them often to a barking dog. Many dogs will bark at you, and never bite. If you respond, they just bark all the more. Just let them bark in the background and move on.

If you have serious doubt that you don’t think is factual, that could be the time to talk to a trained therapist. There should not be any shame in that. (Guys. We have a disadvantage here. We often want it to be anything other than our emotions. Women have the advantage here.) That can be something that can help us overall in life when we get our emotions under control.

Doubt is common, but it’s not the end of the world. The people who never doubt their position are the people who are not taking it seriously. My thinking is that if I meet a man who cannot be wrong in what he says or thinks, I wonder why I should think him right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

Book Plunge: God On Sex

What do I think of Danny Akin’s book published by B&H books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Turn on the TV. What will you often see? Sex. Listen to the radio. What’s on the news? Sex. Look on Facebook or go to the water cooler. What’s being talked about? Sex. Go to church? What’s being talked about?

Anything but sex.

Which is a shame. We don’t impact the world if we don’t talk about what is being talked about. One great reason we should do so is because the Bible itself talks about sex and talks about it a lot. The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve and ends with the marriage of Christ and the church. Sex shows up many places in the middle. Most notably, it shows up in the Song of Songs. This is a poem in the Bible all about sex and marriage, one so blatant that many of the fathers felt a need to allegorize the book.

This is also Danny Akin’s favorite book. I find that quite pleasing to hear. We can often think about those in ministry as being caught in spiritual matters all day long so they don’t have time for such interests. This is a nonsense view. Sex is a spiritual interest because it is celebrated regularly in the Bible. It is the image of the love between Christ and the church. If you do not understand sex, you will not fully understand the love of God.

Akin’s book is a commentary on the book. He goes through and sees what the text has to say about sex and marriage. Throughout, he spices it up (No pun intended) with information from various sources on how marriage is done right and the importance of sex in marriage.

Sometimes, some of these can be a bit of a stretch. It can remind me of having the right message with the wrong text. I suppose it is understandable as many things need to be said in our day and age that weren’t specifically in mind when Solomon wrote his song.

Sometimes, I did want some texts looked at a bit more. There were a few portions that could be sped through. I also can’t say I entirely agree with how the chronology of the story is always played. I think Walter Kaiser in his book on the Song has the best chronology I’ve seen.

That being said, the positive material in here is indeed positive. It can be quite amusing and funny to talk about. What is in here can help a couple who is trying to rekindle the fire or help a young couple that is preparing for marriage. In our day and age, young men and women need to hear a whole lot more about what’s coming besides “Just wait until you’re married” and until then that sex is dirty.

You will also hear about problems of cohabitation and divorce and other such things. Marriage is something we need to have defended in our world today. One of the steps in defending it is living it well and good sex between husband and wife is highly important for that.

I encourage the reading of Akin’s book. It is very readable and easy to read. The language is good and simple for husbands and wives to read together or for fiances to read together.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 18

Does evolution lead to evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We return to the work of Glenton Jelbert with Evidence Considered. This chapter looks at an essay by Richard Weikart on eugenics and evolution leading to that. I do agree that this does not establish that evolution is false. However, I do think there is a danger that one can take evolution in science and apply it everywhere else. When applied to morality, I do think it leads to great suffering.

Jelbert acknowledges this. There is a shameful history associated with eugenics. It did lead to forcibly sterilizing many people. Let’s also keep in mind Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood was a leaning proponent of this and the abortion crisis today is continuing this legacy. Now we don’t sterilize the people. We just kill the offspring.

Jelbert does say eugenics is not science and the scientific establishment was far from unanimous in supporting it. Yet if it is not science, then why was the scientific establishment involved? We could say perhaps it is not true science, but it is still a scientific topic.

Jelbert points to Peter Kropotkin speaking in 1912 at the first international eugenics congress in London.

Who were unfit? workers or monied idlers? Those who produced degenerates in slums or those who produced degenerates in palaces? Culture casts a huge influence over the way we live our lives, hopelessly complicating our measures of strength, fitness, and success.

Now I don’t know much about Kropotkin, but I look at this and think that this is just one opinion. Why should I take him as the main one? It would be like saying the existence of Jesus is far from settled in scholarship because Richard Carrier once spoke at the Society of Biblical Literature arguing for mythicism.

Jelbert also says that the Bible has been used to lead to great evil. He points to the Salem Witch Trials. This is true. However, I would contend that the witch trials misused the Scripture about a witch not being allowed to live since that applied to the Theocracy of Israel and not America. Also, it’s worth noting those lasted a short time and restitution was made.

In January 1697, the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the tragedy of the Salem witch trials; the court later deemed the trials unlawful, and the leading justice Samuel Sewall publicly apologized for his role in the process. The damage to the community lingered, however, even after Massachusetts Colony passed legislation restoring the good names of the condemned and providing financial restitution to their heirs in 1711. Indeed, the vivid and painful legacy of the Salem witch trials endured well into the 20th century, when Arthur Miller dramatized the events of 1692 in his play “The Crucible” (1953), using them as an allegory for the anti-Communist “witch hunts” led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

Of course, anyone who died wrongfully is still one person too many. Also, as Bruce Sheiman says in An Atheist Defends Religion

“Militant atheists seek to discredit religion based on a highly selective reading of history. There was a time not long ago—just a couple of centuries—when the Western world was saturated by religion. Militant atheists are quick to attribute many of the most unfortunate aspects of history to religion, yet rarely concede the immense debt that civilization owes to various monotheist religions, which created some of the world’s greatest literature, art, and architecture; led the movement to abolish slavery; and fostered the development of science and technology. One should not invalidate these achievements merely because they were developed for religious purposes. If much of science was originally a religious endeavor, does that mean science is not valuable? Is religiously motivated charity not genuine? Is art any less beautiful because it was created to express devotion to God? To regret religion is to regret our civilization and its achievements.” —An Atheist Defends Religion

And

“The militant atheists lament that religion is the foremost source of the world’s violence is contradicted by three realities: Most religious organizations do not foster violence; many nonreligious groups do engage in violence; and many religious moral precepts encourage nonvio lence. Indeed, we can confidently assert that if religion was the sole or primary force behind wars, then secular ideologies should be relatively benign by comparison, which history teaches us has not been the case. Revealingly, in his Encyclopedia of Wars, Charles Phillips chronicled a total of 1,763 conflicts throughout history, of which just 123 were categorized as religious. And it is important to note further that over the last century the most brutality has been perpetrated by nonreligious cult figures (Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe—you get the picture). Thus to attribute the impetus behind violence mainly to religious sentiments is a highly simplistic interpretation of history.”

And one more

“Religion’s misdeeds may make for provocative history, but the everyday good works of billions of people is the real history of religion, one that parallels the growth and prosperity of humankind. There are countless examples of individuals lifting themselves out of personal misery through faith. In the lives of these individuals, God is not a delusion, God is not a spell that must be broken—God is indeed great.”

Jelbert also says the Bible purports to be a moral guide. I would like to know where this is. I do agree the Bible has some morality, but I don’t think the purpose of the Bible is to just make us good people. It is to make us Christian people who serve King Jesus and when we do that, we will be good people.

Jelbert goes on to say that Weikart paints scientists with a broad brush, but Weikart does not do this. He says many today often sound similar to the eugenics movement when talking about genetic technologies. This is true. Many do. Not all.

Jelbert also says he does not think there is a Christian ethic. If he means there are issues that Christians can disagree on in ethics, that’s understandable, but not all are. I don’t know many Christians willing to defend pornography or murder or rape. Most all of us condemn abortion as well. Christian ethics are founded on Christian principles such as mankind being in the image of God and the resurrection of Jesus.

I will say at the end I understand the concern of Weikart and we should take it seriously. Scientists can too often seek to play gods. At the same time, this doesn’t show evolution is false. It does show that that which works in science might not work in morality and perhaps if evolution is true, we still should not seek to take it into our own hands.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/7/2018: The Fairest Of Them All

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As the host of the Deeper Waters Podcast, I constantly get asked the question about who is my favorite guest I’ve had on. I’ve never been able to answer that question. I’ve had on so many great guests that I don’t think I could have easily pinpointed one and said, “Yes. This is my favorite guest.”

At least, that was the case, until now.

As you should know, this month is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month that is near and dear to my heart. I always try to have guests on that know about Autism and have them speak on the subject. This Saturday I kick it off by having the best guest I can think of on to talk about Autism.

This is someone who knows about Autism from personal experience of having to live with it. Not only do they have to live with it, they have to live with someone who lives with it as they are married to someone with Aspergers. By the way, this guest that I am having on is someone who is incredibly awesome and is a real knockout to boot.

This Saturday, my wife has agreed to join me on the Deeper Waters Podcast. You all have heard me talk about Allie before many times. Now this time you’re going to get to hear from her yourselves.

My experience with Aspergers has been very different from Allie’s. We’re going to look into that. What was it like growing up? What was it that made her realize that she was different from everyone else? How is it that she came to be diagnosed with Aspergers? What did that mean for her? Was it good news or bad news?

As many of you know, Allie got a very different sort of traits than I did from Aspergers. She is actually incredibly high on the empathy scale. Her main language is also not logic but art. Believe it or not, while she does agree that apologetics is important and needed, she does not really enjoy talking about it. (Please remember that all my Facebook friends who think she shares a deep love for the field. She doesn’t.)

She doesn’t want to focus on this, but we will have to talk about married life some. What’s it like not only being on the spectrum yourself, but being married to someone on the spectrum? Are there any hurdles that you face that you think other couples don’t face?

What about church? Is there anything you wish churches knew about how to communicate with people with Aspergers? What are some steps that could be taken if there is room for improvement?

I am really looking forward to this interview. (Although Allie is a bit apprehensive about it) I can now say my favorite guest would be getting to have my wife on my show. Please be looking for this episode and please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

No. It’s Not The End of The World.

Does Matthew 24 predict the end of the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My view in eschatology is Orthodox Preterism. I understand the hesitancy many have towards it and I suspect often it’s because they see it through the lens of dispensationalism. In dispensationalism, when Jesus comes, it’s the end. Many hold to the idea that the world will end and we’ll all live forever in Heaven. Indeed, many messages in church have it that the goal of Christianity seems to be to get to Heaven.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t think about Heaven. I think the reason we say this is actually the opposite. We’re not thinking about Heaven. We just hear about this place that is really good and we don’t think about what makes it really good. What makes Heaven good is God.

So when we come to a passage like Matthew 24, many people today think it talks about the end of the world. I mean, isn’t that what the text says? Let’s look at verse 3.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

There you go! Right there, it talks about the end of the world. Case closed! Right?

Not exactly. That’s in the KJV. It’s not the best translation job of that verse. Let’s look at the word. The word is aion.

  1. for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity

  2. the worlds, universe

  3. period of time, age

    There were other words that can be translated as world. Matthew does not use them. Matthew refers to an age referring to the system of things. Besides, let’s consider some points. If the world is coming to an end, what good is it going to do to flee to the mountains? Will they somehow survive? May the end of the world not come in the winter on the Sabbath? Why those times specifically?

No. The end in mind refers as I said to this system of things. Let’s keep something in mind. When Jesus is there, His disciples ask about the destruction of the temple and when His coming would be. They have no concept of Jesus being crucified really. He’s said it would happen, but they’re expecting Him to be crowned king instead. They certainly don’t have a concept of Him dying, resurrecting, and leaving in an ascension. Why would they be asking Him about a return? He was right there and they did not anticipate Him leaving them.

This world is also not an evil thing. It is a good creation of God. God is going to redeem it just as much as He redeems sinners who come to Him. The enemy is not going to be allowed a victory so that God’s plans for this world come to failure.

So what is Jesus talking about? Jesus is talking about His coming to His throne, which is what the disciples would want to know about. Jesus is going to be the king so there’s no need of a temple. They could anticipate an earthly king, but Jesus is going to rule from Heaven. The Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days is not on Earth. He’s ascended in Heaven. Jesus is going up. He’s not going down.

Right now, Jesus is the ruling king. He is reigning and as Psalm 110:1 says, His enemies are being put under His feet right now. We await the full fruition of that in the resurrection, for as 1 Cor. tells us, the last enemy to be defeated is death.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Bible Doesn’t Say That!

What do I think of Joel Hoffman’s book published by Thomas Dunne? Let’s Plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Someone sent me an email about this book wanting me to look through it and shred it. I ordered it at the library and went through and really, there is some stuff in here that is pretty good. The author is right that the Bible does not condone slavery for instance, which is a breath of fresh air to hear since so many people get that one wrong. Some passages are quite interesting and there is much to learn from this.

One obvious downside from the book unfortunately is the lack of notes. There are none whatsoever. Other scholars are not referenced. There is no way of knowing where exactly Dr. Hoffman gets his information from. Sure, he holds a Ph.D., but that doesn’t stand alone. One is not infallible for having one.

So if there were any sections I would want to comment on, most notably would be the one on the Bible and homosexuality. Does the Bible say homosexual practice is a sin? According to Hoffman, no. One wishes we could have moved past the arguments by now such as mixed fabrics and such. Hoffman realizes the passages in Leviticus are sandwiched between bestiality and incest, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Hoffman also looks at Romans 1 and says Paul doesn’t say the behavior that the people were doing was wrong. It was just the result of what happened. God punished people with unnatural sex, but we don’t know what the term unnatural actually means.

In reality, we do. Paul uses language from Genesis 1 quite regularly such as speaking of the creator and using terms male and female. This is all a way of saying Paul has Genesis 1 in mind without explicitly saying such. Paul says that from what is seen, everyone knows that there is a God. It is a denial of the vertical reality to instead worship idols and the creation. The best example of a denial of reality on the horizontal level Paul can come up with is homosexual behavior. Male and female go together and belong together.

Nowhere in this does Hoffman interact with Matthew 19 and Jesus talking about marriage Himself. Note that Jesus does not just go to Genesis 2:24, but He also goes to Genesis 1:26-27 where it talks about mankind being created male and female. That is the foundation.

Hoffman does say elsewhere in the book that the Bible never condemns polygamy. Explicitly, this is so, but it warns of the danger of it and when polygamy takes place, it leads to problems. Polygamy was a borderline practice that was allowed for the time being, but did not represent the ideal. Genesis 1 and 2 have the ideal. One man and one woman for life.

Hoffman then says we should consider that there are people who could only find companionship with the same sex and they didn’t know about homosexuality like we do today. I highly question both. The latter is quite simple. They knew about homosexual behavior. Just read the Symposium and see that some people are paired up with the same sex. This isn’t new.

For the former, we have this strange idea that the only way you can find love is through sex. Yet even between men and women, this is not so. I love my mother, my sister, my aunt, and my mother-in-law. There is no thought of sex there at all. I share a special love with my wife and that is the relationship that my sexual thought is supposed to go to.

The idea is that to have true companionship, one must have sex, and this is false. Who is the homosexual supposed to love? The same person as everyone else. His neighbor. That does not have to be sexualized. There are plenty of people who live fine and happy lives without having sex. Those of us who are married should realize the Bible’s prescription that we do have regular sex, but those who are not if they are submitting to Christ will accept a lifestyle of celibacy until they get married.

I also want to look at abortion. The passage used is Exodus 21. Nowhere does he go to Psalm 139. Nowhere does he go to Jeremiah 1:5. Nowhere does he go to Luke 1 with John the Baptist leaping in the womb.

Even still at Exodus 21, the passage doesn’t work. The man is not trying to kill the child. He is doing something on accident and the death penalty is not there for accidental death. Even in the cases of it happening, the man could always go to a city of refuge and stay there.

Hoffman also concludes the whole book saying there are no miracles in the Bible. Miracles are extra-scientific after all. It is true that they have wonders, but Hoffman describes wonders as freedom from slavery or a sense of the divine or beauty or family or anything like that. These are wondrous things, but not acts of God directly every time.

It also doesn’t mean we have to give up miracles as they are understood. We can have both. Can I not appreciate the former things while still holding that God acts in the world? I see no reason I cannot.

Hoffman’s book again is a hit and a miss. Some things are good, but some things are not. A reader could gain some wheat and let the chaff go its own way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Thoughts on Jesus Christ Superstar

What can we learn by watching a popular production about the life of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night for Easter, my wife heard about Jesus Christ Superstar coming on and wanted to watch it. She never had and I never had either. It also didn’t hurt that Alice Cooper was playing a role and she likes his music. (My taste in music tends to be video games, Weird Al, TV shows, and lately, The Greatest Showman.) So we sat down to watch together.

Now I have heard some about the history of the production. It is not made by Christians. It is made in the time of the Jesus People and it is the time that people were trying to rethink about the life of Jesus and if He was worth following then. I don’t have much more to say about the history.

Yet at this point, it still remains the case that Jesus seems to have a great way of confronting every generation. Everyone wants to reshape Jesus and most everyone wants to reshape Him for their position and side. If you have a movement, you want to say that Jesus is on the side of your movement. Nowadays most every religion that comes around has to say something about Jesus.

The production has Mary Magdalene also showing a love interest in Jesus. I do suspect that this is one-sided, but I find it interesting that in our day and age, we read the Gospels and we sexualize them. It’s not just in our day. Some of the Gnostic Gospels had a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary.

This also shows us something astounding about Jesus. Jesus is not seen as a major romantic figure wooing the ladies despite His company including prostitutes regularly. We don’t know if that means Jesus was asexual or not. What we do see is that He treated women with great dignity and respect. Women today are far better off because Jesus came.

Judas is seen in the work as a tragic figure. In a sense, he is. He was so close to the person of Christ and yet he fell so far. Judas should be a warning to us all. We could even say that there’s no reason to doubt that Judas was part of the entourage that went out performing miracles for Jesus and yes, Judas was there when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Despite all this, Judas fell. Let’s always be watching ourselves to make sure that we do not fall.

There’s no indication either that Jesus rose from the dead in Jesus Christ Superstar. My wife watching said, “If He didn’t rise from the dead, what’s the point?” Indeed. What is the point? Yet as we say this, let’s remember that if we say it’s all utterly pointless if He didn’t rise, then we should think the exact opposite if He did. If you think Jesus has nothing to say to us if He just stayed dead, then what difference does it make that He rose again?

Something I told Allie after all of this was it got me thinking about how I have read various religious texts in the past. Let’s take the Book of Mormon. I have read all of the Mormon Scriptures. Something I walked away with from that experience was a greater appreciation of the real deal. When I see Scriptures that aren’t authentic, it’s always great to return to the ones that are. Something about the Bible is unique. Other books are trying to be like Scripture. Scripture is just being itself.

In the same way, let’s look at other peoples’ attempts to portray Jesus and just see how far short they fall. When we do, let’s appreciate more the Jesus that is there. At some times, the Jesus I saw looked rather pitiful, yet I never could think that about the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible is just so radically different. We should appreciate Him all the more.

At the same time, I don’t really condemn others for trying to understand Jesus. He is a unique figure like that. This shows just how incredible Jesus is. It has been said that if Jesus never had existed, we couldn’t have invented Him. Those who think Jesus is nothing special really haven’t spent much time looking at the figure in His time and context.

Jesus Christ really is a superstar, though not for the reasons given last night. Jesus Christ is a superstar not because of how He is in a production. Jesus is a superstar for being not like He was in it. If you want to see the real Jesus Christ Superstar, it’s best to read the Gospels. You’ll find Him there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters